Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Verstappen-Hamilton case draws McLaren’s interest after Norris’ Austria penalty

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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McLaren are taking an interest in the stewards’ response to Mercedes’ request for a review of an incident from last weekend’s race in light of a penalty Lando Norris received earlier in the season

The McLaren driver was given a five-second time penalty at the Austrian Grand Prix after the stewards judged Sergio Perez “was forced off the track” by the McLaren driver. Perez was trying to overtake Norris around the outside of a corner at the time.

Last week Max Verstappen was accused of forcing Lewis Hamilton off the track to prevent his championship rival from overtaking him on the outside. The Mercedes driver was further ahead of his rival going into the corner than Perez had been compared to Norris in Austria, prompting questions over why one incident resulted in a penalty while the other wasn’t investigated.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl remains convinced Norris had the right to the line in his incident with Perez and should not have been penalised at all.

“Looking at Lando’s case, definitely we have some questions,” said Seidl. “Lando got a penalty in Austria for something which, from our point of view, was debateable. I think you can definitely argue it was Lando’s corner, different to what was seen in Brazil.”

If the stewards grant Mercedes’ request for a review, Seidl expects it will establish a new precedent for how similar incidents are judged in future.

“We’re very interested in not necessarily the ruling from today – the outcome of today’s investigation is again a different story, different process – but more like understanding what Michael [Masi, FIA F1 race director] will brief to the drivers tonight in the drivers briefing on how they see things moving forward.

“Because I think whatever the outcome is, it will definitely change the approach of the drivers to certain manoeuvres on track. That’s why it’s interesting to clarify.”

Seidl believes the differences between the run-off areas at the corners should not have a bearing on a penalty decision. Verstappen and Hamilton went onto an asphalt run-off and quickly rejoined while Perez ran into a gravel trap, losing more time.

“The consequences should not necessarily be part of the decision making process,” said Seidl. “Again, for me, the Lando case is, to be honest, a completely different case. It wasn’t his fault so it’s even not comparable to what happened last weekend. He was on the racing line, he was in front with his car. And then, for me, it’s just normal in racing that the guy on the outside line at some point has to lift because you have no space.

“It’s different to getting pushed off. That’s why we were wondering at the time why we got the penalty, that’s why we’re wondering that things like we have seen last weekend are analysed. So that’s why I think it’s important to put that straight.”

If stewards were to take into consideration the consequences of incidents, it could lead drivers to exaggerate the disadvantage they experience in incidents as a result of others’ moves, said Seidl.

“If you go into this consequences thing, it’s an impossible task because then you might end up forcing people into showing it as a consequence and artificial things, going in the gravel when you don’t have to go in the gravel and whatever, just to make sure the penalty gets applied, et cetrera. For me you have to look at the incident that happens on-track.”

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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22 comments on “Verstappen-Hamilton case draws McLaren’s interest after Norris’ Austria penalty”

  1. The FIA is fine since Verstappen showed intention to take the corner, contrary to Hamilton who barely turned the steering wheel.

    1. You really haven’t watched that footage at all then Mathias, unless you have HAM and VER mixed up there during the 1st phase of the turn in

      1. Max didn’t win, that’s it.

      2. Investigation still ongoing…

    2. No, the FIA didn’t hand out a penalty for Max because he didn’t win.

    3. Hamilton won.

  2. I don’t envy the FIA with this one.

    Drivers are basically saying they want absolute clarification now and they will modify their driving to force drivers off track if it’s now allowed. I’m not saying whether Verstappen deserves a penalty or not, but I can’t see how the FIA can’t give him a penalty now otherwise it seems like a rule change partway through the season and everyone will be doing it for the last few races!

    1. The biggest miss was not investigating the incident in the first place. Then outcome and its justification can be debatable but the absence of investigation is like saying this is expected driving standards and sending the wrong signal. Whatever the outcome, this kind of move is on the border line (over the line?) and should be treated as such.

      By not investigating, it has also made the case bigger than if we were arguing about the steward decision and will cast shadow on the remaining of the season and eventual on the outcome of the championship which we could all do without.

      1. They’ll bottle it. They’ll say the race result is already classified and so they cannot go back to investigating issues from the race. Plus the technicality about there being no paperwork for the incident etc…Masi and his band of merry stewards will run away from this one.

        1. They can avoid altering the championship while still sending a message. Admitt they missed the call in the race, hand Verstappen a handful of penalty points against his liscence, and put Verstappen’s Brazil points in the balance in case of future incident in 2021.

          1. That would’ve been a fair outcome I think.

    2. @geekzilla9000 – Forcing others off the track is only allowed to Verstappen. The stewards will punish the other drivers for doing this. Everyone will swallow that and will keep quiet.

      No one cares about rules or application of rules. Everyone cares only about their own agenda, their own profits. In particular, the FIA cares about money. Verstappen wins – more publicity = more money than if Hamilton wins for the hundredth time. So Verstappen can do whatever he wants. No one will care even if another driver will be injured after a crash with Verstappen.

  3. @chaitanya I know you are not the only one, but for once I would really like it if everyone on this forum would stop using names like Crashtappen, Fraudmilton or any other inappropriate name. Why can’t we have any respect for people we have never met in our real lives, who have never done anything to harm us in any way. They deserve our respect, right?

    It is a proof of civilized behavior when we address people by their proper names. And if we see other using this inappropriate names, we should try to respectfully tell them to stop their inappropriate behavior. I have not lost confidence that we – as a community on Racefans – can do better, that we can learn and improve.

  4. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    19th November 2021, 11:17

    The strangest thing about this whole mess is that you don’t need fancy camera angles, telemetry, etc. to establish whether one car has crowded another off track. You don’t need to establish intent. If a car comes from behind and forces his opponent off track he is guilty of crowding, case closed. There is no nuance here, it’s an open-and-shut case.

    And I do wonder whether this in fact will be Red Bull’s defence: the new camera angle isn’t new evidence, because it was already obvious that Verstappen had forced Hamilton off track but the stewards decided it wasn’t worth investigating. New camera angles don’t make it any more obvious. And yes, that makes the stewards a laughing stock, but Red Bull would have a point.

    1. Spot on. They’re treating a no-brainer like it’s something subtle.

    2. A comparable example would be if a police officer sees a someone walk into a shop before running out carrying a loaf of bread. However the police officer doesn’t think its worth chasing after him at the time or even going into the shop to see what happened.

      If the CCTV footage is then sent to the police, would no action be allowed to be taken against the thief, especially if the shop owner later tracked down the thief and got the bread back?

      Would any previous disputes between the thief and shop owener be taken into consideration?

      How about if the shop owners cousin had previously been punished for stealing a bag of frozen peas from the thiefs brother in slightly different circumstances?

      What about if the locals townspeople started asking for clarity about whether they could steal bread from shops whenever they wanted?

      What about if the shop owner and thief had large followings on social media, who enjoyed making polemic arguments and calling each other names?

  5. F1 created this mess. They will need to release a mea culpa and state something to the effect that they didn’t want to influence the championship with penalties but realize they are influencing the championship by not calling obvious penalties.

  6. He’s spot-on.

  7. Exactly it’s just incomprehensible when the penalize drivers like Norris in Austria and Hamilton in Silverstone for taking “too much space” when they were actually entitled to the racing line and managed to make the corner and then they don’t bother investigating Verstappen in Brazil. When Verstappen was almost entirely overtaken already at the braking point and still runs another car off. Not making the corner at all.

    1. Exactly.

      The rule is don’t crowd another driver off the road but Max did exactly that and did not make the corner himself. His tyres can’t have been to blame because he did not go off that corner in that way any other time. So driver error or driver deliberate intent is the only question.

      If an error then maybe no penalty but he as to demonstrate what the error was otherwise intent has to be presumed since he is after all one of the very best drivers in the world.

      And on the presumption that the rules are there to be adhered to and FIA don’t want others copying this potentially dangerous tactic then some penalty of some kind must be enforced.

      A Fine, penalty points on his licence or a time penalty on his race result does not really matter…. It’s the principle that dangers actions cannot go un noticed or unpunished….they were after all quick enough to hit Lewis for Loosening his seatbelt and that had no danger to anyone other then himself.

  8. FIA is clear. Do what we can to get Max to win the championship.

  9. Andreas Seidl, you sweet summer child. You want the rules applied with transparency and consistency? It’s impossible to apply this rule this way. It’s a terrible rule and maybe if the stewards keep making messes we will get rid of it.

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